Ridgeway Hotel helped bring in new year for 1887

Courtesy of the Medina Historical Society – Invitation to a New Year’s Party at the Ridgeway Hotel, Friday, Dec. 31, 1886.

Posted 30 December 2022 at 7:53 pm

By Catherine Cooper, Orleans County Historian

Illuminating Orleans, Vol. 2, No. 42

RIDGEWAY – “Fall in, ye lovers of Mirth, and enjoy a Dance to be given at RIDGEWAY HOTEL”

On this weekend, some 136 years ago, “Lovers of Mirth” attended a New Year’s Party at the Ridgeway Hotel. The hotel was a well-known landmark on Ridge Road, having operated as a tavern and stagecoach stop since 1811.

J.P. Tenbrook acquired the hotel in 1883. The Medina Register of October 4, 1883 noted that “John is popular in Niagara County and doubtless will be in his new quarters.”

Tenbrook was no stranger to the hotel business. His father, William, owned several hotels in Lockport and Olcott. His brother A.H. owned the Shelby Center Hotel for several years.

In Ridgeway, Tenbrook energetically set about organizing a series of parties held throughout the year – George Washington’s Birthday, July 4th, Harvest Celebrations. There are several specific newspaper references to the colorful invitations which he used.

Reporting on the 1888 New Year’s Party, the Medina Register of January 3, 1889, called it “A Grand Success”. The event was attended by 152 couples, which surpassed previous records.

“There was not a soul here who did not thoroughly enjoy the fine music and the excellent repast. The fact that Mr. Tenbrook’s parties are so well attended speaks better than words for the manner in which they are conducted.”

Elsewhere, he is referred to as “a genial host.” As a measure of his popularity, the hotel is referenced on several occasions with his name – “Tenbrook Hall”, “Tenbrook’s Hotel”.

He sold the hotel to D. Donovan in 1896. At the time of his death in 1910, Tenbrook was proprietor of the Waverly Hotel in Niagara Falls.

Postcard view of the Ridgeway Hotel on Ridge Road/Route 104. Remarkably, the building which then housed the hotel still stands and its appearance has not greatly changed. Note the hitching posts on Angling Road.